April brings earth’s annual reawakening, shaking off gloomy times of winter, ending the remaining vestiges of cabin fever by being outdoors.
It’s a busy month for the sportsmanwith the S.C. turkey season in full swing, bass and crappie on the prowl and the trout season opening in the high country of neighboring North Carolina.
It is a season that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Here are a few suggestions.
▪ Go for a wildflower walk. There are maintained trailsin state parks, national forests, and national parks. Many of them meander through truly special places – along the Catawba River close to home, in the historic Kings Mountain area, through rugged stretches of the Sumter National Forest, and a bit farther afield, in the Great Smokies. The Smokies have the most diverse ecological system in the entire Northern Hemisphere. During a single full-day walk you can see spring from the point where it is barely arriving at high elevations to places of full flower a few thousand feet lower.
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▪ Travel on the Catawba or Broad River by canoe or kayak. You will see water birds, beauty almost at your back door, and if you carry along a fishing rod, you are likely can catch the makings of a fine meal in the bargain.
▪ Make some simple fishing poles.Find a patch of cane and cut a half dozen or so likely poles. If you find raw material aplenty, a polite request to cut a few canes will likely be granted as the plant spreads rapidly and can actually be a nuisance. Once the canes are cut and stripped of vegetation, hang them from a tree limb or barn – anywhere you can put a weight on the lower end so they cure straight. In May you can finish the process with line, maybe varnishing the cane, and generally getting it rigged for a day on the water.
▪ Go on a morel mushroom hunt in the woods. April is the month morels “pop” from the ground, and they are far more widespread in this area than most folks realize. It takes some experience and a knowing eye to find them, but the end results areworth it. Incidentally, once they get the knack, kids are really good at finding morels, and the potential joy puts an Easter egg outing in the shade.
▪ Go camping. Whether you rough it by backpacking into a remote areaor camp in comparative comfort at a state park or commercial campground, quality time away from home and in close contact with nature is invariably enjoyable.
▪ Fish a farm pond, creek, river, or lake. April, especially when days are warm and no more than a balmy breeze stirs the air, is a grand time to be waiting for a bobber to bounce, for a hungry crappie to hit a minnow or jig, or for a trout to rise to an artfully presented dry fly. In the latter part of the month bream will begin to bed. Throughout the month you likely will find bass and crappie in the shallows in spawning or post-spawn mode.
▪ Cook your catch for a family feast. The culinary joys of what I used to tease my mother as being the “release to grease” approach to fishing are undeniable. That is doubly true if youngsters are involved in the preparation and if it involves eating a mess of fish they caught or at least helped catch.
There are other opportunities to enjoy April outdoors, dozens of them, but hopefully these suggestions will at least turn your attention toward being afield or astream in one of the most delightful months of the year.